The Astros are one win away from pulling off one of the greatest postseason comebacks in Major League Baseball history. After dropping the first three games of the American League Championship Series against the Rays, they have won three in a row to force a Game 7 on Saturday. The Astros will use right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. as their starter then, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic tweets. The Rays, hoping to stave off a collapse, will turn to righty Charlie Morton, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
McCullers, who debuted with the Astros in 2015, has been through the postseason wringer with the perennial contenders. He made his first playoff outing as a rookie and has since contributed 43 frames of 2.93 ERA pitching with 9.6 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in the postseason, including closing out the Yankees in the Astros’ 2017 ALCS victory in Game 7. As for this fall’s playoffs, the 27-year-old has tossed 11 innings of five-earned run ball, and he last took the mound for the Astros in their Game 2 loss in this series on Monday. McCullers totaled seven innings with four runs (only one earned) on four hits and no walks in that game, and he put up 11 strikeouts.
Morton got the better of McCullers in the pair’s previous matchup, during which he fired five scoreless frames. The 36-year-old Morton helped lead the Astros to a championship in 2017 with his excellent playoff performance, but he could now end their season with his current club. Not only has Morton largely been a tremendous regular-season pitcher since he broke out as an Astro during their title-winning campaign, but he has been as good or better in the fall, evidenced by his lifetime 3.16 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 51 1/3 playoff innings. Based on the success he has had in the postseason, Morton seems well equipped to handle a do-or-die matchup.